Mario Vargas Llosa Biography

(Latin America's Most Significant Novelist and Essayist and Winner of 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Birthday: March 28, 1936 (Aries)

Born In: Arequipa, Peru

Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is well-known for his standing in the Latin American “boom” movement of writers. Apart from being a novelist, he is also a journalist, essayist, politician and college professor. He initially received worldwide attention during the 1960s, alongside the rising fame of other various “boom” writers, such as Gabriel García Márquez or Julio Cortázar. Several of his novels have been adapted into films. Generally, the narratives in his writings focus on Peruvian life, though his essays have spanned broader themes, related to issues felt elsewhere in the world. The political bent of his writings culminated in a bid for the Peruvian presidency in 1990, which was not successful. Vargas Llosa’s political outlook has transitioned over the years from far left to liberalism or neoliberalism in later years. His writing style has also evolved, with some critics describing earlier works as evidencing traces of literary modernism and later works as being decidedly postmodern. After his highly acclaimed work, ‘Conversation in the Cathedral’, Vargas Llosa’s work also shifted from solely centering on more serious themes, such as politics or social ills, to include humorous elements in addition to deeper themes
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa

Age: 88 Years, 88 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Julia Urquidi, Patricia Llosa

father: Ernesto Vargas Maldonado

mother: Dora Llosa Ureta

siblings: Ernesto Vargas

children: Álvaro Vargas Llosa, Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, Morgana Vargas Llosa

Quotes By Mario Vargas Llosa Nobel Laureates In Literature

Notable Alumni: National University Of San Marcos

Ancestry: Peruvian Spanish

Founder/Co-Founder: Democratic Front

More Facts

education: Complutense University Of Madrid, National University Of San Marcos

awards: Nobel Prize in Literature - 2010
Miguel de Cervantes Prize - 1995
Premio Planeta de Novela - 1993 · Death in the Andes

Peace Prize of the German Book Trade - 1996
Rómulo Gallegos Prize - 1967 · The Green House
Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society - 1995
Grinzane Cavour Prize - 1986 · The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta
Maria Moors Cabot Prizes - 2006
Prix mondial Cino Del Duca - 2008
Menéndez Pelayo International Prize - 1999
Irving Kristol Award - 2005
PEN/Nabokov Award - 2002
Prince of Asturias Award for Literature - 1986
National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism - 1997 · Making Waves
Carlos Fuentes Prize - 2012

  • 1

    What are some of Mario Vargas Llosa's notable works?

    Mario Vargas Llosa is known for his famous works such as "The Time of the Hero," "Conversation in the Cathedral," "The Green House," "The Feast of the Goat," and "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter."

  • 2

    What is the significance of Mario Vargas Llosa's writing style?

    Mario Vargas Llosa is known for his intricate narrative techniques, blending reality with fiction and incorporating historical events into his works. His writing style often explores complex themes such as power dynamics, identity, and political corruption.

  • 3

    How has Mario Vargas Llosa's background influenced his writing?

    Mario Vargas Llosa's upbringing in Peru and experiences living in various countries have heavily influenced his writing. His works often reflect themes of Latin American culture, societal issues, and political unrest.

  • 4

    What are some critical opinions on Mario Vargas Llosa's literary impact?

    Critics often praise Mario Vargas Llosa for his ability to blend genres, explore complex themes, and create compelling characters. His works are celebrated for their intellectual depth and engagement with social and political issues.

  • 5

    What is Mario Vargas Llosa's perspective on the role of the writer in society?

    Mario Vargas Llosa believes that writers have a responsibility to engage with and challenge society. He advocates for the freedom of expression and the importance of literature in sparking dialogue and promoting social change.

Childhood & Early Life
Mario Vargas Llosa was born on March 28, 1936, in Arequipa, Peru, to a middle-class family.
His parents, Ernesto Vargas Maldonado and Dora Llosa Ureta, separated shortly before Vargas Llosa’s birth and, as a result, he lived primarily with his mother’s family.
During his early childhood, he moved from Arequipa to the Bolivian town of Cochabamba and back to Plura, Peru, a result of various diplomatic posts that his maternal grandfather held.
At the age of ten, he moved to Lima, where he lived for the first time with both his parents, who had reconciled.
During his teenage years, he began working as an amateur journalist for various Lima newspapers.
Although his father got him enrolled in a military school, he withdrew and re-enrolled in a Piura high school, where he continued working for local newspapers.
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At the age of 17, he enrolled in the National University of San Marcos, Lima, to study law and literature.
After graduating from the National University of San Marcos, he received a scholarship to study at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, where he completed a doctoral thesis.
In 1960, he moved to Paris, hoping to receive a scholarship to continue his studies. Although his application was rejected, he continued to reside in Paris and devoted his energies to writing, full-time.
In the early 1960s, his novels received critical attention for the first time.
In 1963, his first novel, based on his experiences at a Lima military school, received widespread acclaim including a Spanish literary prize.
Between 1965 and 1969, his second and third novels solidified his reputation as a literary heavyweight.
In 1971, he published a biographical work on fellow “boom” writer, Gabriel García Márquez.
In the early 1970s, he began writing novels with more humor, including the satirical novel ‘Captain Pantoja and the Special Service.’
By the late 1970s, he began holding various positions within literary organizations and universities, serving as president of PEN International from 1976 to 1979.
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Vargas Llosa’s teaching positions included work as a traveling lecturer in the late 1970s, at various institutions including the University of Cambridge and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In 1987, Vargas Llosa helped form and lead the Movimiento Libertad, a party that may be termed ‘neoliberal’, despite Vargas Llosa’s own dislike of the epithet.
In 1990, he ran for presidency of Peru as the FREDEMO (Frente Democrático) candidate, but lost to Alberto Fujimori, an experience he later described in ‘A Fish in the Water’.
Since the 1990s, he has lived at least partially in Spain, dividing his time between Madrid and his native Peru. As a national of both countries, he has on multiple occasions expressed his sense of kinship with both nations.
Major Works
In 1966, he published his first novel, ‘The Green House’, which received critical appreciation, including the description by Gerald Martin as “one of the greatest novels to have emerged from Latin America.”
In 1969, he wrote ‘Conversation in the Cathedral’, which catapulted his name into worldwide literary circles.
In 1981, Vargas Llosa’s first historical novel ‘The War of the End of the World’ was acclaimed as one of his most ambitious and most successful works.
In 2000, his political thriller ‘The Feast of the Goat’ received widespread acclaim as one of his most important works.
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Awards & Achievements
In 1986, Vargas Llosa received the highly regarded Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, a Spanish prize.
In 2010, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, “for his cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”
In later years, he received various European and Latin American prizes related to arts and letters, including the ‘Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art’; the ‘Chevalier of the Legion of Honour’, from France; the ‘Order of the Aztec Eagle’, from Mexico; and the ‘Grand Cross with Silver Star of the Order of Christopher Columbus’, from the Dominican Republic.
Personal Life & Legacy
At 19, he married Julia Urquidi, the sister-in-law of his maternal uncle, who was ten years his senior.
In 1964, Mario and Julia separated and, in 1965, he remarried, this time to his first cousin, Patricia Llosa, with whom he had three children.
His influence as a novelist and writer is largely seen in later generations of Spanish-language authors as well as international writers.
He has been described by literary critic Gerald Martin, as “perhaps the most successful… certainly the most controversial Latin American novelist of the past twenty-five years.”
Facts About Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa is an avid soccer fan and has written extensively about the sport, including a book titled "A Fish in the Water: A Memoir."

He once ran for president of Peru in 1990, but ultimately lost to Alberto Fujimori.

Vargas Llosa is known for his love of classical music and often listens to it while writing.

He has a keen interest in journalism and has worked as a newspaper columnist throughout his career.

Vargas Llosa is a polyglot, fluent in Spanish, English, French, and Italian, which has greatly influenced his writing style and themes.

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See the events in life of Mario Vargas Llosa in Chronological Order

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